Pepper, Pumpkin, And The Magical Pajamas: Pumpkin Is Missing, by Rita Madison
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Books Go Social. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
As a result of having joined yet another book reviewing program, I received this book aimed at the child market. Coming in at 100 pages, this book would most likely be suitable for able readers in the middle to late elementary school ages, or precocious readers a bit younger . I would like to state at the outset that I did not find Pepper, a spunky and dramatically emotional orange-haired girl, to be all that appealing of a heroine. She is a spoiled only child and extremely bossy and irritatingly opinionated for someone so empty-headed. She is the sort of child that I would give up for adoption should I be cursed with her, and yet somehow she ends up having received a magical pair of pajamas she has kept somewhat secret from her parents that serves as an important artifact in this new series aimed at bratty girls. Hopefully the character shows some maturity and growth in future volumes, as there are at least some teasing hints this book provides that the character has future adventures in which she shows herself at least a bit less irritating and more sympathetic.
The story itself is told in a somewhat inventive fashion. Recognizing that the main element of suspense in the novel is the fact that Pepper’s spunky orange-haired cat Pumpkin is missing, the author chooses to begin the story with Pumpkin going missing and then having the narrative flashback to Pepper’s loneliness and her identification with her cat who seems somewhat like her. Perhaps a great deal of Pepper’s irritation as a character can be due to the fact that she is an imaginative if not particularly clever child who seems rather in her own world, without siblings and certainly without a great deal of trust in her parents, who seem remote here even when they are being kind and far too generous to her. At any rate, Pepper looks all over the house for her lost pet, then all over the neighborhood, thinking about her experiences and her love for her cat, and then she wears her magic pajamas and in a dream finds out the location of her cat, which her father then rescues by climbing up a tree. The story ends happily for everyone involved, although the parents here are given paper-thin characterizations.
This is the kind of book whose enjoyment depends on one’s sympathy with the main character. The author clearly has a strong command of language and a skill with plot, and children who read this will be encouraged to learn some of the narrative devices of flashbacks that will be useful in future reading. There is certainly much to admire in the artistry of the book, and the drawings are very well done. If you happen to like the drama princess at the center of this story, this is a book that you will probably enjoy far more than I did. I would have liked the story more if I did not find the protagonist so frustrating and irritating of a character. There is enough here, at least for this reader, to consider it worthwhile to read the next novel in the series and see if the character improves on me any. The book was good enough that Pepper deserves at least a second chance to make a better impression on me. There are certainly many children around who would be able to identify with her, that’s for sure. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, though, about the general state of childrearing in our culture.
 See, for example: